The Sacraments (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1076-1690) are the fruits of the Redemptive Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. They were instituted by Jesus to confer His graces on our soul when we receive them with an understanding and sincere heart. The Sacraments are divided into: the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist); the sacraments of healing (Penance and Anointing of the Sick); and the sacraments at the service of communion and mission (Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony).
The Sacraments of Initiation
Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the three sacraments that establish the foundations of Christian life. The faithful born anew by Baptism are strengthened by Confirmation and are nourished by the Holy Eucharist:
- Baptism, which is the beginning of new life in Christ and His Church (see Matthew 28:16-20; John 3:1-8; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; 1 Peter 3:21);
- Confirmation, which is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like that of Pentecost, which strengthens a person to live the graces of their Baptism (see Acts 2:1-4; 8:14-17);
- Eucharist, which is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus that He instituted to perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until He returns in glory. Thus He entrusted to His Church this memorial of His death and Resurrection. At every Mass, the one sacrifice of Christ is made present to us. In this gift of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus nourishes and sustains His disciples with His glorified Body and Blood. When we receive Holy Communion (the Eucharist), God’s graces transform and conform us in and to Christ. It is a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is received, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us. (see Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-22; John 1:29; John 6:22-68; Hebrews 9:16-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-30).
The Sacraments of Healing
The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, His work of healing and salvation. This is, in part, the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the Sacrament of Penance (also called Reconciliation or Confession) and the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (see James 1:13-18, 5:19-20; Matthew 16:16-20; John 20:19-23; 2 Corinthians 5:17-22; Mark 6:7-13; James 5:14-15).
The Sacraments of Vocation
Two Sacraments, Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders, confer a special grace for a particular mission in the Church to serve and build up the People of God. They contribute to ecclesial communion and to the salvation of others.